College of Computer and Information Science
Relational agents are computer animated characters that simulate face-to-face conversation between health providers and clients, including both verbal and nonverbal channels of communication. The agents can be designed to emulate best practices in human face-to-face health counseling to provide a clear channel of communication for individuals with a wide range of reading, health and computer literacy. The social and relational behaviors used by these agents (such as empathy) serve to increase patient trust in and therapeutic alliance with the agents, leading to increased engagement and use over time. In this talk I?ll describe the dialogue systems and animation technology used to implement these agents. I will also discuss my experiences over the last decade building relational agents for health education and longitudinal health behavior change interventions in which users have had thousands of counseling sessions with them at home, on mobile devices, in the hospital, and in outpatient clinics.